One hot spring afternoon we were on the playground and I noticed the sky turning green, and the trees were starting to whip back and forth beyond what was a normal windy day. A few seconds later the tornado sirens went off.
I cannot explain the terror that filled my heart as the other teachers and I tried to hustle dozens of toddlers inside the building. I have not known terror like that since, except in those flash moments when Jane is very sick or hurt.
For so long I declared that I probably wouldn't have children, but on that day over ten years ago, I was mama to a dozen little babies who wobbled when they ran and couldn't quite get the knack of potty training. A least I felt like a mama as we all huddled in an interior hallway. We teachers put on our best fake smiley faces and sang Jesus Loves Me, and then Itsy Bitsy Spider. Truly, I was terrified.
We heard the roar as a tornado passed over, flinging limbs and debris against the roof of the old church the daycare was housed in.
The children, for the most part were oblivious to the dangers. They sat cross legged, climbing on me like their own personal jungle gym. They picked their noses and sang If You're Happy and You Know It with the most adorable lisps.
It's hard to wrap my mind around the tragedy a tornado can bring. But the children in Moore. I have had to turn off the news. It makes my heart ache in the worst way. It makes me remember that day, many years ago, and all those toddlers that called me Miss Wiz. They are teenagers now.
I'm sitting here in bed, at 4:47 a.m. unable to sleep. I can hear the birds chorusing in the trees outside. Matt is snoring next to me, and Jane is asleep across the hall. Mabel alone is awake, staring at me with a questioning face.
"What gives woman? Go to sleep."
I suppose I feel it's my obligation, a little bit, to be sleepless right now. To sit here in the darkness, in solidarity with all the Moore mamas who are wide awake and worried.
Arkansas has a stormy forecast today. Possible severe weather, those are the words the weatherman uses. None of us here in the south get a pass from these scares.
May God bless you, Oklahoma. May God protect us and heal us from these things we will never, ever be able to understand.